Awards season is coming to a close for film makers with the 88th Academy Awards coming up this Sunday. Many people on the fringes of the industry snub the Oscars, claiming they are over-politicized and glamorized. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of garnering friendly competition while promoting brilliant work.
I understand why others have particular issues though I choose to ignore them. I also cannot remember a year when the vast majority of winners and nominees weren’t fully deserving of the recognition that comes with being a part of the awards circuit. From the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards, and now we arrive here.
Each year I take it upon myself to view as many of the nominated films as possible before the big night. That being said, I only watch all of the narrative films and exclude the documentaries, shorts, and foreign films. Last year I was able to see all but two, while this year I have been successful in viewing them all. The impressive list of nominees has taken me from the treacherous surface of Mars to the deadly North American wilderness of the early 1800s.
The Big Short finally explained the 2008 financial crisis to me in an entertaining and completely comprehensive way while Spotlight brilliantly re-opened my eyes to an overwhelming scandal that I was too young to comprehend when it first came to light. Room broke my heart and Mad Max filled it with testosterone. I witnessed my favorite actor get mauled by a bear in the role that will finally win him his long awaited Oscar. I had the privilege of watching Michael Fassbender paint a mesmerizing portrait of the man Steve Jobs while reading Aaron Sorkin’s transcendent dialogue.
After winning Best Actor last year for his performance as Stephen Hawking, Eddie Redmayne continues to melt into his characters with his haunting portrayal of Lili Elbe. This year it will be his costar in The Danish Girl, Alisha Vikander, who will take home a much deserved award for a career making performance.
Ensemble casts are my absolute favorite and this year I was treated to several. The Big Short, The Martian, Spotlight, Trumbo, and Steve Jobs are all responsible for bringing together brilliant groups of talent that elevated their stories to the next level. Speaking of stories, nine of this year’s nominees were based on books. Some loosely, others religiously, but all adapted brilliantly.
There is no lack of controversy over the Oscars this year. I choose only to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the nominated films and believe that nothing should take away from their worthiness to be a part of the ceremony. I find only three qualms in this year’s lineup. My favorite screen writer, aforementioned Sorkin, wasn’t nominated for his work. Idris Elba should be taking home an award for Beasts of No Nation but he was overlooked in the Best Supporting Actor Category. In that same category, Sylvester Stallone will take home an undeserved win over the far more demanding performance of Tom Hardy in the Revenant. Ultimately it comes down to your particular preferences and that’s what makes the friendly competition fun.
I urge you to tune in to the awards show this Sunday evening and enjoy some of the greatest people in the business being recognized for their phenomenal work. If the ceremony just isn’t your thing, look up a list of the nominees and start watching. You won’t be sorry.
Kyle C. Reed is a Fayette County native who enjoys film-making.